A local man in law enforcement recently learned the true meaning of friendship.
Mickey Gilbertson has struggled with his health for the past two years. Kidney troubles led to more than a year of dialysis for the 61-year-old. The doctors told him he needed a transplant.
That’s when Mike Huggard, 64, stepped up to help a friend.
“Mickey tried to talk me out of it,” Huggard said. “I told him: ‘You ain’t got a choice in the matter.’”
Doctors ran tests and found that one of Huggard’s kidneys was a perfect match for Gilbertson’s body. The procedure was at Piedmont Hospital in July. The two men were placed in rooms side-by-side during recovery.
“What can I say?” Huggard said. “A friend needed something. It gives you a real good feeling to help somebody, especially a friend in need.”
Gilbertson now refers to Huggard as “my new brother.”
The two knew each other from going to local gun shows and got to be friends over the past several years.
“I don’t take real kindly to folks doing nice things for me,” Gilbertson said, laughing. “I would much rather be the one helping. This time, it was the other way around.”
Huggard said they were “fortunate” to be a good match for the procedure.
“It was like it was meant to be. It’s far better to give something than to receive,” Huggard said. “It’s like when you give a gift at Christmas time. The person giving the gift feels a lot better than the kid that receives it.”
Gilbertson’s wife, Jane, is glad Huggard gave to her husband.
“Mike’s a hero,” she said. “He’s awesome.”